A German born artist who studied in his home country and emigrated to the United States to eventually take part in the California Gold Rush, Charles Christian Nahl is known for his paintings of mining life and for being the artist who created the bear emblem on the California state flag.
Nahl's motivation for leaving Europe was initially an 1849 spurt of political instability in Paris where the family was living. They headed to New York but soon boarded a ship to California, spurred on by the tales of gold as were many of their contemporaries.
Mining didn't turn out for Nahl but the mining economy would prove good for his art career. He and a friend, Frederick August Wederoth established a studio in Sacramento, selling mementos to the miners who often sent them back home to their families.
A fire that devastated Sacramento caused Nahl, his family and Wederoth to move to San Francisco. There, they reestablished their studio and were also prominent in the world of athletics, having an interest in gymnastics and bodybuilding.
Charles Christian Nahl was, throughout his career, primarily a commercial artist. He worked on commission and, the most well-known of those commissions produced the grizzly bear on the California state flag.